Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lady Gustav

No one likes to be a victim of a natural disaster. Especially when it's something that could have been prevented on their part.

With that, hurricane Gustav has come and almost gone. Weather experts, also called "lucky guessers," have stated that the dwindling hurricane is still a threat, and could possibly spawn several tornadoes, severe flooding, and numerous over-hyped weather reports. They are so right, as they seldom are. Gustav is fading so quickly that it went from a category 3, to 2, to 1, to Tropical Depression, to Tropical wave, faster than the Republicans jumped at the chance to use the potential natural disaster to distance themselves from W's handling of Katrina 3 years ago.

I'm very glad that the devastation was substantially less than advertised, that the storm did NOT live up to the hype. Nature mimics life in general. With the massive destruction and loss experienced from the Katrina disaster, New Orleans residents, for the most part, heeded the early warning from Mayor Ray Nagin to "get the BLEEP out of the city." No one wanted to make the same mistakes learned only three years ago. In fact, all the young entrepreneurs who have recently flocked to New Orleans buying up dilapidated, water-damaged Wal-Mart shopping centers for pennies on a dollar, hoping to profit off the city in wake of Katrina, keeping their fingers crossed that the "storm of the century" would not return for another 97 years, were finding themselves questioning the decision to buy buildings on a hurricane-prone shore in a city that is essentially a bowl. They lucked out this time.

In fact, Mayor Nagin even spoke yesterday, after the city sustained the level 3 winds and the levees held, that he had mis-monikered Gustav as the "Mother of all storms," but instead, in the perfect 20/20 "clarity" of retrospect, should have called the masculine-named storm the "Wicked Step-Mother" or "Ugly Step-Sister" of storms. Great! Way to make a large proportion of the US population and numerous Disney characters feel slighted, even if it meant that mothers everywhere were off the hook.

He did, despite all vocal foibles, handle the affair much more adroitly than previously, which means that the next one that hits (possibly the very next letter in the alphabet--Hurricane Hana--incidentally a female name) might warrant the warning of "get out . . . and don't come back!! You live in a bowl!!!! Without you here, my job will be easier! Beware the wrath of 'Big Papa' storm Hana! The Grand-daddy of all [feminine] storms!! . . . ." He should not only be praised for his vernacular message of the importance of imminent and eminent evacuation, but for his appointment of 1,500 police officers who patrolled the vacated home of thousands, who only had to make 2 arrests during the "critical storm period." One of whom who was looting a gas station, stealing disinfectant wipes and a key so he could use the station's bathroom, and another guy who was actually stealing gas from a station so that he could drive around the city during the storm a case the vacant storm he could prospectively loot.

Today, evacuees were encouraged to take another day off from work, school, and normal living while the city crews cleaned up the fallen limbs, strewn trash, and restored power to the disturbed areas. Those who returned today would only "get in the way," they were told. Tomorrow is the first real official day that storm evacuees can return to their homes and put a "for sale" sign in the yard. Younger and more naively optimist entrepeneurs take notice: cheap real estate looms on the horizon, locations ideal for swimming pools, private lakes, insurance companies, and bathing suit retailers, not to mention bars.

There is always the frightening possibility that the next time a "Storm of the Century," be it pretty, ugly, legitimate, or born out of wedlock, the city of New Orleans might be more recalcitrant if not reluctant to follow the mayor's orders to "scram, man," thinking they can weather the storm. Crying wolf is real phenomena. Surviving "Madame" Gustave is now the most recent memory in the live's of the Big Easy's citizens. Katrina now seems like a Harlott from a forgotten era of Mother Nature's past. Let's just hope that Mayor Nagin is around for a LONG time. Perhaps only he can put the seriousness of every impending natural disaster into the effectual parlance of it's resiliant denizens.

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